IMF: Jordan price hike ‘important step’

Updated 26 December 2012
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IMF: Jordan price hike ‘important step’

AMMAN: The IMF said yesterday Jordan's decision to raise fuel prices by up to 53 percent last month was "an important step," despite violent protests in which three were killed and more than 70 injured.
"Despite this challenging environment, the authorities have been implementing sound macroeconomic policies aimed at reducing fiscal and external imbalances in a socially acceptable way. The removal of general subsidies on all fuel products ... was an important step," it said in a statement.
"It reduced costs and risks to the budget from fluctuations in oil prices. Introducing targeted transfers at the same time mitigated the impact of fuel price increases for a large part of the population."
Jordan insists the price hike was "unavoidable" given the country's $ 5-billion (3.9-billion-euro) budget deficit, and that the measures would save $ 42 million by year end.
The country relies on imports for 95 percent of its energy needs and has been struggling to find affordable alternatives to Egyptian gas supplies, which have been repeatedly hit by sabotage.
Amman has said Cairo resumed this month full gas supply of 250 million cubic meters (8.8 billion cubic feet) a day. "Jordan performed well under the program in 2012. The country has faced challenges during the year from the disruption of the flow of natural gas, the ongoing conflict in Syria, and an acceleration of influx of refugees," the IMF said.
"Combined with higher oil and food prices and a shortfall in grants, this has put further pressure on the country's economy. Nonetheless, growth is expected to increase slightly to 3 percent compared with 2.6 percent in 2011."
Following a Dec. 3 to 20 visit to Jordan, the IMF expected average inflation to be around 5 percent for the year.
The IMF said it plans to discuss with Jordan a 2013 plan to help address issues like hosting more 250,000 Syrian refugees who have fled the unrest in their homeland.
"This program will include specific policy measures that would help Jordan to reach its program objectives and address the key challenges it faces, including the large inflow of Syrian refugees," it said.


Ride-sharing app Careem says it was hacked

Updated 24 min 58 sec ago
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Ride-sharing app Careem says it was hacked

  • The Dubai-based competitor to Uber said in a blog post on Monday that it became aware of the hack on Jan. 14
  • While credit card information remains safe, Careem says that the hackers got access to customers' name, email addresses, phone numbers and trip data

DUBAI: The Mideast ride-sharing app Careem says it has been hacked.
The Dubai-based competitor to Uber said in a blog post on Monday that it became aware of the hack on Jan. 14 and that it affected "computer systems which hold customer and captain account data." Careem refers to its drivers as captains.
While credit card information remains safe, Careem says that the hackers got access to customers' name, email addresses, phone numbers and trip data.
Careem is one of just a few Gulf startups to be valued at $1 billion. The six-year-old company localized the idea of Uber by also allowing customers to pay by cash.
Among its biggest investors is an investment firm chaired by billionaire Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal and the largely state-owned Saudi Telecom Co.